Thousands descend on downtown Houston for Pride Festival and Parade

Sunday, June 26, 2016
Pride festival draws thousands
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Pride festival draws thousands to downtown Houston.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Thousands came to the Bayou City to celebrate within the LGBT community while remembering the victims of the deadly club shooting in Orlando.

Just after sunset, there was a lively atmosphere in downtown Houston. Alexis Tamez says she came to support her friend Trevor Schubert.

"One of the things that drew us out was everyone talks about the fun atmosphere and so far it's lived up to its expectations," Tamez said.

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Photos from the Houston Pride Festival and Parade, Saturday, June 25, 2016
David Mackey

"It's awesome so far. A really good atmosphere, everyone is positive," Schubert said.

Julie Kutac attended her first Houston Pride Parade.

"In a time when it's so scary and seems like hate could crowd out love, this is a time for us to come and show our solidarity," Kutac said.

More security was assigned by the city to accommodate the crowds.

"There's a lot of police officers you see and there's a lot of police officers you don't see. On top of that we added metal detectors throughout the festival and what not," President and CEO of Pride Houston Frankie Quijano said.

Honorary Grand Marshal Imran Yousuf was a bouncer at Orlando's Pulse nightclub and is credited for saving many lives by opening a side door to help survivors out.

"All I want is for everyone to come together and grow because we look at it as we're just human beings. I don't care if you are gay or straight, let's come together as a community," Yousuf said. "There's thousands of people here doing that and I love it so much."

VIDEO: Imran Yousuf, security guard from Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, talks to abc13

Yousuf has started a fitness bootcamp in Orlando to help people "release their stress and worries and provide an amazing outlet to not only benefit your bodies but a chance to connect with many others going through this troubling time with you." To donate to the Love Orlando Bootcamp, CLICK HERE.

"I feel like I'm in a better state now and have a lot more to give back to everyone else and that's what I'm going to try to do," Yousuf added.

Flag carriers marched down the street with the names of all the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The flag will be given to the city of Orlando for its Pride parade.

"My favorite part of this is everybody coming together. It doesn't matter if you're straight, gay, girl, female, black, any religion. Everyone's coming together to celebrate," a parade-goer added.